First off, despite my little dig above, I am in no position to tell you who you can and cannot cheer for in any given sporting contest. If you want to root on Indiana while you attend Purdue, I can't -- and won't -- stop you. I can, however, think it's the wrong approach. It's like America that way: you're not obligated to follow my beliefs on hot button political issues, but you are required to at least respect my right to have such opinions.
We've taken some flak this past week (and other times) for refusing to blanketly root for the Big Ten in games not involving Purdue. We then attempt to explain ourselves (often in 140 character bites on Twitter) and yet the thicker-craniumed among you don't seem to understand. So we'll try again here.
Once again, you're entitled to cheer for whatever team, player or hairdo you like. But let me ask you this...Do we need to be actively rooting for a team in every single game? Can you just watch a basketball game to watch it? To see what happens? To be there for the moment of the tournament if it happens? Why is there this insistence among people that others must choose a side. This isn't the Presidential election. It's not Terminators versus the resistance. It's not ANWR. It's not gun control. It's just a basketball game.
If you're a fan of basketball in general and not really a fan of a team or program and rooting for a team (or against a team) makes it more interesting for you, then fine. But if you need this to keep your attention from wavering to shiny objects in the room, maybe you should just accept your fate as a sports gambler now. You'll love the casino sports books, where everyone is watching games like this.
My 64 year old mother was surprised to hear I was happy Indiana was losing to Kentucky over the weekend. "You're not rooting for the Big Ten?" she asked, aghast. So yeah, that's who is in the same boat as you folks who think you're somehow obligated to root for your conference out of some misplaced loyalty that even the schools themselves don't have.
Don't get me wrong. I don't want to see Kentucky win, either. But if Kentucky wins, as B-dowd pointed out, it's only a matter of time until they have to roll up the banner and put it in a storage closet. And more to the point -- and less snarkily -- what does Kentucky winning do to Purdue? I mean, if you want to relate the outcome of these games to your own favorite program, what does a Wildcats national championship do to you? Everyone knows they're the most talented team. Everybody knows they're the favorite. If they win, it's almost expected. Almost a, "well, we knew this was coming." If IU won it all or made the Final Four? You'd have to hear about it forevah!
|"How's that feel??"|
The analogy I've used a number of times when dealing with SEC braindeads is that of pro sports. I'm a Yankee fan (yes, yes, I know -- just go with it for a moment), but do you think I cheer for the Red Sox to win if the Yankees are out (I know, this is fiction, but go with me here -- hey-yo!)? Why would anyone want to cheer on one of their rivals? One of the teams they see their boys do battle with usually multiple times a year? Because we don't want, what.... the Big 12 to win a championship? Who cares? I'd rather see the teams/programs that I hate with regularity suffer. Even the cynical and curmudgeonly among us -- what do we get out of seeing North Carolina or Kansas lose? We don't deal with those fan bases on a regular basis. OSU, MSU, IU, UM...those we do.
Truth is, we've both found ourselves rooting for IU in football. When Coach Gum Throwy was there, you bet your ass we wanted to see them beat programs like Michigan. Yet if they were one win from a bowl season and were playing Michigan, it might be a different story.
Back to basketball, though. As the matchups are determined and often as the games draw closer, that's when we find ourselves gravitating to a side. And when the battles are between two truly unlikable characters or programs, well, I go back to what I said earlier: Why do we have to root for either? Can't we just see how the game goes? Maybe Rick Pitino will collide with Anthony Davis coming out of the tunnel, break his (Pitino's) nose and get blood all over this $3,000 suit and then the scoreboard will fall on Calipari. Who knows.
Our allegiance is to our alma mater. After that, it's all just noise.